Are we not always answering another’s question?
You remember that spring morning in Acquaviva Platani? The green just coming up on our poor plot? Your girl’s clown face, your beautiful name, Gelsomina?
See, always there are two, outer and inner – inner carries you, the day you were born, the thumbprint of god, sunflowers crazy with light. Oh, that house of distant spring. Swallows lifting into spangled light.
A filigree of dust, also rising. Your mother, she calls you.
“ È uscito un po ‘strano~~she came out a little strange,” the mother tells the dark man, his cigarette, ash falling on his chest, a torpor weighing him into
the way and wall he leans against. “10,000 lira.” You see, it is after the war, the one we could not recover from; and we had a new word, sfollati ~~displaced person.
The woman standing at the door of her hut. Blazing sun, the air clouded with insects. The girl, you, skinnier than in the film, hungry thin, owl eyes; blistered roads, never meant for auto or truck or
tank. The silence here is heavy, another burden, the girl, you, thin as whitethorn. Threshed from your own flesh.
After this war, seaports destroyed, damaged; even the huge white clouds are stained with grey. Boys fling themselves upon roads, hills, inside bombed-out-movie-studios.
Manhattan, Upper West Side, two girls slip inside the Thaila movie theater to see La Strada, a film by Federico Fellini. For the younger one, Nica, the film has within it, a seed of what she already knows: some strengths are not visible, and that seeming to do something willingly, isn’t the same as doing it willingly.
Carol, three years older, black eyeliner almost to her cheekbones, leads the way. The theatre is small, and dark, and this is where they go to learn on weekends, bits and pieces of other languages and other things.
Una dolcezza —a sweetness — the girl
stutters down the splintered road with Zampano,
Would she love him? She is full of fabulous grace.
We are made to believe that Zampano is not able, he will never, his life
Is growl and gravel. Illiterate, desperate. He is carved
from riverbanks, ditches, meagerness, war & whippings, luce addolorata, saddened light.
The two girls are best friends. There are no others, really. Carol always goes before,
the hard-handed things, so Nica learns not to. They have shown each other their
told what they could of the secrets each had tattooed on their flesh. They are learning
the world, or a kind of world, one
that needs escaping from.
Gelsomina remembers, before the dark man, her mother, maybe for the first
time, held her face in her hands, and looked at her. Then a slight shove.
Trucks careening over stone roads built before Christ. Up the crusted mountain, an old man is pulling a carretta, a sort of cart covered in tarpaulin … a tiny woman is pushing the cart from behind.
Carol tears curtains down, deflowers her mattress. When at nine, she in the bath,
her step Father, you know, and now, yes, she is crazy. Nica goes to the hospital to
see her, and well, here she is, terrible, drug-faced, and slow, this wonder girl, the
beautiful one, legs to die for…here.
Se vuoi stare con me, devi imparare una cosa: tenga la bocca chiusa. –
if you want to stay with me, you’ve got to learn one thing: keep your mouth closed.
Always the question is, why do you stay? Oh Gelsomina, why do you stay? But for Z, there is no such
Question, as to: why do you beat? Why do you hurt?